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Brief Encounters Of The Third Kind: Dark Matter

Update: GOG are offering refunds to anyone who bought the game before 21 October 2013 at 15:00 GMT and it is no longer available through Steam due to “a known issue at the end of the game”.

The release of Dark Matter might have taken longer to register on my radar if pockets of the internet hadn’t become enraged about the game’s abrupt ending over the weekend. After the failure of its $50,000 Kickstarter, the grotesque alien-infested Metroid-veinier found solace in the arms of publisher Iceberg Interactive. Unfortunately, as Indie Statik have covered in extensive detail, continued development of the game didn’t follow the original plan and the released version is, effectively, the first episode of a game that may never have a second episode. As it stands, the game ends with a whimper and a sudden block of text that is inconclusive to say the least. A shame, because what I played of the game was promising.

Wise Chris Priestman over at Indie Statik followed the thread of this story back to an alpha video that contains revealing developer chat about the game’s state of completion before the Kickstarter ended. Chris has this to say:

As InterWave didn’t get the funding they asked for on Kickstarter, we know they they only had half of the game they had originally planned to create. They had three months to do something with this version of Dark Matter before they sold it on Steam as a finished game. An option presumably available to InterWave would have been to release Dark Matter as an Early Access title on Steam, perhaps, but they decided for a full release instead.

I haven’t played the current version yet so wouldn’t like to judge how much game there is based on a youtube video of the ending but the climax is certainly anticlimactic. This all seems worth knowing before purchasing decisions are made. Eurogamer report that Iceberg reckon “a more conclusive and satisfying ending is coming” but it’s not clear whether that simply means a cutscene and a full stop rather than a ‘to be continued…’

And yes, I know that encounters of the third kind aren’t relevant to a game that’s actually about shooting aliens in the face rather than simply laying eyes on them. Still, I would definitely pay to see the Noël Coward’s screenplay for Alien.

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Adam Smith

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